A group of six students in Pakistan have launched a campaign against the taboo surrounding menstruation in the country. They took to Facebook and their college walls to discourage people from shaming the "natural" phenomenon.
The six students — Mavera Rahim, Eman Suleman, Mehsum Basharat, Noor Fatima, Sherbaz Lehri and Asad Sheikh — of Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in Lahore pasted 25 sanitary pads on the walls of their university with messages like "it's something so natural" and "I'm not flawed or poorly made" written on them. They also wrote certain facts about female menstruation on the sanitary pads and cautioned people against considering it as "gross, weird, or wrong".
"This is not a campaign; this was merely an aesthetically-based protest as a class project. We chose this because Eman and I feel women face a lot of stigmatisation and ridicule for menstruation, something they have no control over," Rahim was quoted as saying to The Express Tribune.
In a Facebook post, she reportedly wrote how women in the country talk about their menstrual cycle in hushed voices and buy sanitary products wrapped in brown paper bags to hide it from the others. She also pointed out that women, lacking knowledge about hygiene practices, contract different infections, yet resist discussing about them because of the stigma attached to it.
"No, I'm not some shameless libertine but I don't think I should feel shame for this, even though I do feel very embarrassed and self-conscious about this whole experience," Rahim said, defending their awareness campaign.
Rahim added that two of them stood talking to the boys in the university with stains painted on their long white shirts, called kameez, to tell people it is nothing "weird" but merely a natural consequence of a natural biological cycle.
The campaign resembles a 2015 campaign at Jamia Millia Islamia University in the Indian capital of New Delhi, where sanitary pads with feminist messages were pasted all over the campus to spread awareness about women exploitation cases. Women in other countries have also resorted to Facebook and Twitter to break the stigma attached to women issues, including menstruation. Pictures of stained bed, stained clothes and sanitary pads have been posted in the past on many social media sites to encourage people to stop shying away from the subject.
The Pakistani students' campaign saw support pouring in from Twitter and Facebook users, the paper added.